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CQC to take urgent action to protect women and babies

By Clare Gooch

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust has been told by the CQC to take urgent action to protect women and babies from harm.

Baby and mother hands

The Trust has come under the spotlight this week after being told by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to ‘take urgent action’ in respect of their maternity services to ensure that women and babies are not exposed to risk and harm. 

In January, the most recent inspection of St Peter’s Hospital, part of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, saw the Trust issued with an overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ for their maternity services. However, some aspects of hospital maternity services were rated ‘inadequate;’ the lowest rating issued by the CQC, with several areas of concern being identified, including:  

  • Not all doctors had completed their mandatory maternity training
  • Staff did not have enough time to appropriately risk assess women, or act upon identified risk within safe time frames
  • Several audits showed poor compliance with record keeping
  • There were significant staffing shortages that reflected national shortfalls, putting the safety of women and babies at risk.

Tragically, we are becoming all too familiar with the inadequacies of many UK’s maternity services, many of which are victims to the chronic staff shortages that the NHS is experiencing nationwide. It therefore comes as no surprise that the recently produced NHS England workforce plan has revealed that the NHS is currently operating with 154,000 fewer full-time staff than it needs, with these numbers only set to skyrocket to 571,000 by 2036, more than a third of the current NHS workforce.  

Of real concern is the fact that there don’t seem to be any plans to increase midwifery staffing numbers. It begs the question, how are maternity services expected to be safe when there aren’t enough staff to cover the service now, let alone in the future, with no plans for increasing midwife numbers?

We act for so many families who have suffered as a result of poor maternity care. This investigation is another example of how mothers and babies continue to be at risk. We encourage anyone who has been affected by care received from Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to contact  us, so that we can start supporting you too.  

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Clare has worked in Medical Negligence for over 10 years.  She’s a Senior Associate Solicitor in our Medical Negligence team based in Switalskis’ London office.

Senior Associate Solicitor

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